Thursday, January 10, 2013

Our Christmas Crafting This Year

For the "Art Project" and "Drawing Lesson" slots in our school schedule during Advent, we spent a bit of time doing some pre-Christmas crafting.  These aren't Charlotte Mason-style handicrafts, but we did try out some new techniques and the kids were able to make some Christmas gifts on their own.  Care to take a look?

Christmas Cards
The children and I have a tradition of doing handmade Christmas cards each year.  I had bookmarked the foam printing process we used this year (similar to this) long ago but didn't have the materials on hand then--this time around, I made sure to have everything we would need.  We will definitely be doing our cards this way again!  It's the perfect method for this kind of project because you can make multiple copies with very little effort.  The children marked the images and rolled on the paint; I did the printing.  This way, making a few dozen took only an hour.  We also made a couple larger ones and mounted them on cardstock as gifts for the grandparents.

I try to do an ornament each year with the children.  Last year we cut salt-dough circles, painted them gold, and decorated them with tiny buttons--fun, easy, and lovely on the tree.  This year's, though, was a less successful craft project.  

Melting the beads in cookie cutters worked perfectly and was very simple, but drilling holes to hang the shapes as ornaments was less so--they cracked as soon as we tried to drill through.  I put the rest of the shapes aside until we can get think of another way to hang them because I do think they will look nice hung on the tree or in front of a window.  Any ideas?

Family Gifts
My kids love making all kinds of gifts for each other, which I want to encourage...but I have to admit, they're always needing "help," and I end up doing more than my share of the gift-making for them.  Not exactly how I would like things to go.  So this little craft was probably my favorite because it was my daughter's idea and she completed it almost entirely on her own.  

She read in a magazine about making a board game and decided it would be the perfect Chrstmas gift for her brother.  Game board out of cardboard, stickers, and markers; dice from the math bin; cards cut from construction paper; and little Scupley cars for playing pieces.  She was very pleased and so was he.

Another simple project: coloring books for their little sister.  Big hit.

Their true labor of love this year, though, was a gift from my two oldest for my husband: picture books of favorite carols.  One of the children's favorite Christmas traditions is to do sing-alongs with my husband, turning the pages in an accompanying picture book while they listen to a carol.  We love Good King Wenceslas and Deck the Halls, but we hadn't yet found a great version of "We Three Kings" or "I Saw Three Ships."  (We are both very picky about picture books. ;))  So when we were putting away the Christmas books last year, the big kids told me they wanted to illustrate their own versions for Daddy's Christmas present for the following year.  I put a couple blank books aside and pulled them out at the start of Advent for them to start working on since I knew it would be a lengthy project.  I was right--they finished the day before Christmas Eve!

As I said, we're picky about picture books, but I have to say, I think these are pretty great. ;)

For next Christmas, I already have some projects in mind that can take advantage of some true handicraft lessons we're hoping to do this year: beaded icicles and perhaps a finger-knit garland.  Now if only I could figure out how to fit handwork in with a baby in arms and a couple toddlers to chase...


  1. I love the picture books for the Christmas carols! I have our favorites for We Three Kings (Genady Spirin) and I Saw Three Ships (On Christmas Day in the Morning by John Langstaff illustrated by Antony Groves-Raines, Harcourt, Brace, 1959) but you might not like them as much as we do.

  2. I have seen that version of We Three Kings, and Spirin's illustrations are, as always, stunning, but my husband is bugged by the repeating illustrations each time the chorus comes around. And he is the carol-picture-book-reader in this house. :) I'm very curious about the Groves-Raines book, though--they don't have it at our library, and it seems to be OOP. Which text does it follow? We have (and love) the Nat King Cole version of the song, so I'm looking for a picture book that follows those lyrics (at least loosely).

  3. That is funny, because the we are a bit bothered by the repeat of the same page on the chorus, but it's the best we have found.

    I don't know Nat King Cole's version. I'll have to get the lyrics and post. This book takes the old English songs. St. Michael is included.

  4. Celeste, do you use regular card stock or a special paper for your cards? I love all of these homemade ideas!

    1. Hi Amanda! I actually buy packs of the Strathmore "stamping cards" - . The paper they make those with is just regular cardstock, though, so you could certainly fold your own. ;) They do sell specific paper for block printing that is thinner and takes the printing ink slightly better, but it's way too thin to use for cards. I do have the kids print their images on a couple pieces of that (it has a slightly less wet look, so it shows details a little better) and then I cut it out and mount it onto colored cardstock to give the grandparents. But this is really a super simple project! Not sure if you saw, but we used the same printing process for our cards this year, this time using gold ink. They look so pretty in person! You can see a peek at them here - .